05 November 2008
16 October 2008
Somehow, and I may be wrong, I don't think America realizes there will be four of us (black folks) or them (Obamas) in the White House if he wins. Is the country ready for a black First Family? We shall see.
An aside: Look at all of that straightened hair. You can bet we won't be seeing those ladies anywhere near a swimming pool or an ocean.
Posted by Surfsister at 22:57
07 October 2008
27 September 2008
Last night was a first for me and my spouse. We both have tended toward apathy with respect to voting. I generally vote in the presidential elections, but it is rare that I cast a ballot for someone from the two major parties. He dismisses the entire system and won't vote at all. Nevertheless, we were both glued to the debate last night. It's not because there's a brother poised to reach our country's highest office. It's that the current president has driven the country into to such a morass that everyone is curious about the person (black, white, male, female) who might be able to get us out of it.
Some thoughts on who emerged victorious. I thought it a draw with a nod toward Obama. He's been demonized by the Republicans as being inexperienced and clueless. He certainly didn't sound or look clueless last night. What I took from the debate was a complete mistrust of McCain's ability to be president. Obama was careful to talk about the normal folks, about how we're struggling and how we need some assistance. Did McCain even speak to this issue? My take is that McCain is all about war. He came to life when talking about Iraq and Afghanistan, and probably could have spent hours talking about it. Hey, I don't live in those places! I do acknowledge that they deserve our attention as potential terrorist breeding grounds. I want to know what my president plans to do for me, my neighbors, the poor, our military vets. Tell me what you think is wrong with our economy, our education system and health care. If military skirmishes and wars are the only things that you love to discuss, you're not fit to be president. (Was it me or did talks about Iraq, Afganistan and Pakistan give McCain a stiffy? He seemed to snap to attention when those were the topics being discussed. If that's what Cindy's dealing with after he pops some Viagra, I've finally found a reason to feel for her.)
I don't want to live in a country that believes we must always be at war. I think McCain is a war monger. It's what he knows best. It's what he likes. But there's got to be more to being the president than that. McCain would keep us on a path that leads to our young men and women being sent off to fight battles that may not be worth the loss of their lives. I'm the mother of a son. He will register with the Selective Service when he reaches the age of majority. I'll be damned if I'll let some punk ass guy or gal in the White House send him off to war for his or her own pleasure.
I'm voting for Obama.
Posted by Surfsister at 16:33
25 September 2008
I've never been hesitant about expressing my displeasure with both the Republicans and the Democrats. In my world (no, not the black world but the world occupied by one little quirky black woman), there appears to be very little difference between the two parties. Granted, there's now a black guy on one ticket and a white woman on the other. And that means what? Now the two parties have miraculously morphed into something they're not? I don't think so.
I'll come right out and admit that I will be voting for Obama in November. Not because he's the first viable black candidate in the history of this country. If that were the case, I should have also supported Clinton as the first viable female candidate in U.S. history. (Shirley Chisholm was a bad ass sista . . . who was never going to win.)
I don't know that I've liked any of the presidents who've held office during my lifetime. I don't remember many of them obviously. Perhaps Kennedy had some stuff. We'll never know. He died when I was a few months old. I realize that I, as a mother and a woman of middle age, want to believe that my president will get down and dirty if he has to. I don't mean tough talk. I mean a man, or woman, who's not afraid to get in someone's face. I have every confidence that Hillary would have been just that type of person. I believe Obama is too. McCain? I don't see it. He doesn't scare me.
I want a president who's willing to take Ahmadinejad behind closed doors and threaten him with bodily harm if he doesn't straighten up and fly right. I know Obama isn't completely one of us. His mom was white and his dad wasn't from the U.S. Therefore, Obama, in some ways, was born without the burden I've discussed earlier in this blog. The racial collective unconscious that taps into the days of slavery and whatever else that haunts us is not quite a part of his DNA. But he is a brother. He is a black man who has lived most of his life in America. He's dealt with some stuff and he knows how to dig deep to evoke that place of anger that all black men (and women) in America share. I know it's there. I can see it in him. America, specifically white America, doesn't want to see it. White folks fear that anger. What is that about? That anger, white America, is not necessarily directed at you. It's your fear of this anger that is at the root of much of today's racism. (Goodness!! I'm getting off on a tangent. I'm going to run with it though. I'll get back to my point about Obama in a minute.) Black folks are angry. We may always be angry. It's time for everyone to accept that and deal with it accordingly. (That means black folks acknowledge the anger, recognize how it hurts us and determine how we'll keep it from killing us. That means white folks will acknowledge the anger, stop the fear and the guilt associated with it and determine how best to keep from exacerbating it.)
Check this!! Ahmadinejad does what he does best. Threatens most of the world with destruction. McCain will pursue diplomatic routes to deal with this dude, right? He'll make some veiled threats, turn bright red and then stroke out because, let's face it, he's much too old to be president. Then we're left with Palin, who's inexperience with the lower 48, let alone the rest of the world, scares me to death. She won't do anything other than a lot of posturing. She may threaten to take him moose hunting and then do to him what Cheney did to his "friend". Who knows? All I know is that she's done nothing to inspire my confidence. Yeah, we both have ovaries and boobs. Sharing those physical characteristics is not enough of a reason to gain my support. What do you think Obama would do to Ahmadinejad? Yeah, he'll smile, looking cool and collected while playing up his intention to use diplomatic avenues to bring this dude to his senses. But somehow I know Obama will take Ahmadinejad aside for a closed door meeting. I know Obama is completely capable of getting in someone's face. I can see it clearly. Ahmadinejad will threaten to obliterate Israel or do something harmful to America and Obama will be on him. That index finger will be in Ahmadinejad's face. Obama, with his face not far from Ahmadinejad's, will have his head cocked to the side. You see this body language quite a bit when brothers get angry. What will Obama say? "Nigga, I will fuck you up!!"
What? It could happen. And it would certainly give Ahmadinejad something to think about. We need a president who's not afraid to take it to the streets. There's only one person I can see doing that. So this election is a no-brainer.
Posted by Surfsister at 13:11
30 July 2008
From The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday issued an unprecedented apology to black Americans for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow segregation laws.
"Today represents a milestone in our nation's efforts to remedy the ills of our past," said Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The resolution, passed by voice vote, was the work of Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen, the only white lawmaker to represent a majority black district. Cohen faces a formidable black challenger in a primary face-off next week.
Congress has issued apologies before _ to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II and to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. In 2005, the Senate apologized for failing to pass anti-lynching laws.
Five states have issued apologies for slavery, but past proposals in Congress have stalled, partly over concerns that an apology would lead to demands for reparations _ payment for damages.
The Cohen resolution does not mention reparations. It does commit the House to rectifying "the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow."
It says that Africans forced into slavery "were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage" and that black Americans today continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws that fostered discrimination and segregation.
The House "apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow."
"Slavery and Jim Crow are stains upon what is the greatest nation on the face of the earth," Cohen said. Part of forming a more perfect union, he said, "is such a resolution as we have before us today where we face up to our mistakes and apologize as anyone should apologize for things that were done in the past that were wrong."
Cohen became the first white to represent the 60 percent black district in Memphis in more than three decades when he captured a 2006 primary where a dozen black candidates split the vote. He has sought to reach out to his black constituents, and early in his term showed interest in joining the Congressional Black Caucus until learning that was against caucus rules.
Another of his first acts as a freshman congressman in early 2007 was to introduce the slavery apology resolution. His office said that the House resolution was brought to the floor only after learning that the Senate would be unable to join in a joint resolution.
More than a dozen of the 42 Congressional Black Caucus members in the House were original co-sponsors of the measure. The caucus has not endorsed either Cohen or his chief rival, attorney Nikki Tinker, in the Memphis primary, although Cohen is backed by several senior members, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Tinker is the former campaign manager of Harold Ford, Jr., who held Cohen's seat until he stepped down in an unsuccessful run for the Senate in 2006.What is the purpose of such an apology? It doesn't do my ancestors any good, does it? It doesn't undo the harms of the past. It doesn't actually relate to me in any way. My parents lived through Jim Crow, as did the folks my grandparents' age (most of whom are no longer living). What does this apology do for them? Nothing. That's like the government apologizing for the internment of the Japanese. You can't change the past with an apology. You can't make it better. You can't return the homes and businesses that these people lost just by saying sorry decades later. What is the point of these U.S. government apologies? Am I safe to assume that this Cohen dude only did this because he wants to be re-elected? If you really want to apologize, give me whatever would be the 2008 equivalent of my 40 acres and my mule.
Posted by Surfsister at 07:44
19 July 2008
The scene: a birthday party for a one year old. In the hood. Dysfunctional families. I overheard one young woman talking about her relationship and then tell the listener, "Well, I'm the prettiest one of the baby mamas."
I kid you not.
Posted by Surfsister at 23:16
01 July 2008
06 June 2008
19 March 2008
The Time.com headline said it all. Apparently, discussions about race are unheard of or, at least, unexpected in a post-Civil Rights era presidential election. Hence the reason for characterizing yesterday’s speech by the Democratic frontrunner as “Obama’s Bold Gamble on Race”. Why must it be both bold and a gamble to talk about race? Do you see a happy, melting potted citizenry in this country?
It all began with the sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr., now retired after decades on the pulpit at the Trinity United Church of Christ. Fox News, whether on television or online, depicts him as a hate-monger whose “inflammatory” oratory was simultaneously anti-American and anti-White. Other media outlets followed suit, condemning Obama for attending services at a church where the preacher’s use of black liberation theology was widely accepted. At first glance, with one’s God-given ability to think critically stuck in “Park” rather than shifted to “Drive,” Wright’s words are appalling:
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because of stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own backyard. America is chickens coming home to roost.”
These are the words Wright delivered after the World Trade Center was brought down by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Is he saying America deserved this tragedy? Hardly. What he is suggesting is that America cannot, in good conscience, think God blindly allows this country to contribute to the ills of this planet without some kind of reciprocation. Some refer to this as karma. The biggest irony about Wright’s statement is that the “chickens coming home to roost” wording also lead to the silencing of a major Civil Rights era figure over 40 years ago. In late 1963, Malcolm X referred to chickens coming home to roost when speaking about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Those words eventually led to his forced departure from the Nation of Islam. The fact that Reverend Wright was borrowing from a historical figure was apparently lost on the major media outlets, but it was patently clear to the people sitting in the church.
Wright’s sermons appear to be a study in theology and sociology. In his mind, and in the minds of others who practice black liberation theology, a sermon cannot address one without addressing the other. This is why Wright would stand on the pulpit and utter things like “Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger” without hesitation. As painful or distasteful as his statement was, it was still true.
Barack Obama refused to completely reject Reverend Wright. Obama used his eloquence to tell America what can be summed up in seven words in the vernacular of Black America: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. This country cannot survive if it continues to ignore issues of race. We are a nation that continues to identify itself as a country of immigrants, knowing full well that the ancestors of one segment of the population were brought here by force. Equating the Middle Passage with voluntary resettlement in a new country is one of the reasons why black liberation theology remains a constant in many black churches. Instead of being surprised at the mention of race in this election, Americans should demand that it be discussed openly by all of the candidates.
Posted by Surfsister at 22:03
04 March 2008
My son posed an interesting question the other day. Not interesting for an adult, mind you, but it was something I hadn't expected to hear from my child at the tender age of 6. Upon looking at the box of a new toy and noticing the human hand in one of the pictures, he asked, "Why are there only white people on the toys and on TV?" Hmmmmm. Good question, young blood.
After praising him for his critical thinking abilities, I reminded him that there are black folks on the TV (although I know good and well that there aren't many of us on the commercials seen on Nickelodeon, Noggin, and the like). I told him the question he should also be asking is why there aren't any Asian and Latino kids represented in the commercials. In the end, I said his question was one he should never hesitate to ask. Ask me. Ask Dad. Ask his teachers. Put all of us grown-ups on the spot and make us stammer through sugar-coated explanations of racism.
Posted by Surfsister at 13:59
09 February 2008
The daycare in question is not in Fallujah or along the Gaza Strip. It lies in the heart of a middle-class black neighborhood here in Los Angeles, a neighborhood that Wikipedia describes as “one of the wealthiest majority-African American areas in the United States.” View Park is considered one of L.A.’s best-kept secrets. Lying 20 minutes away from almost everything (the beach, Downtown, Hollywood and the South Bay), View Park defies all of the stereotypes Los Angelenos hold about black neighborhoods. It experienced “white flight” in the early 1960’s. Interestingly enough, white homeowners are now returning, having realized the home prices there are more affordable than they are in more well known areas. View Park is a bona fide neighborhood; the folks at one end of a block probably know the names of the majority of the people on their street. Neighbors actually wave and speak to one another (which is more than can be said for many other neighborhoods in Los Angeles). A friend who grew up in, and still lives in, View Park once described it as “Mayberry”.
The Mayberry we all know and love was protected by a sheriff who refused to carry a gun and deputy whose gun was unloaded (since the one bullet he was given rested in his shirt pocket). There were no episodes about Opie going to daycare and having to scale a fence topped with barbed wire when he got it in his cute little red head to run home for one of Aunt Bea’s perfect lunches.
No one can successfully argue that a daycare with barbed wire creates a healthy environment, let alone one that is fun or nurturing. Barbed wire is for felons, not for children. This country’s prison industrial complex was built, in part, on the assumption that blacks commit the majority of the crimes for which the punishment is a prison sentence. Statistics about black men and incarceration rates abound in the media. Most people, knowing no better, believe what they hear (and what they read). It is when one travels to neighborhoods like View Park that one begins to question these myths . . . until one comes upon the daycare and its barbed wire.
Many questions come to mind upon seeing the barbed wire at a place charged with the caring for children while their parents are at work. Why would the owners use such material on the facility’s fences? Someone suggested that there had been thefts of playground equipment in the past. There is a proper solution to that problem. It is called build a taller fence. Why do the parents continue to send their children to a place that obviously has so little respect for them or their children? (How do you think the parents in predominantly white or Jewish neighborhoods would react to a daycare surrounded by barbed wire? They would not stand for it.)
View Park is a wonderful neighborhood. The streets are quiet and the people are friendly. Most people who were born and raised there never leave. They’ve got a good thing in View Park and they know it. The only blot on the landscape is the children’s prison fronting as a daycare.
Posted by Surfsister at 22:46
19 January 2008
How does one in good conscience turn a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the difficult early 20th century lives of black women in particular and black people in general into a musical about love? Oprah Winfrey’s production of The Color Purple, which is currently at the Ahmanson Theatre, attempts to do just that. The fact that Oprah is able to sleep at night, basking in the glory of the musical’s success while ignoring its larger implications, is disturbing, but not surprising.
Thankfully, the musical remains loyal to the book’s basic plot. The story revolves around the love shared by two sisters, Celie and Nettie, who are separated during their teen years and spend much of their adult lives not knowing whether the other is alive or dead. Celie, the oldest, is essentially given away to an older man, Mister, who views her as nothing more than chattel in human form. Their marriage, if one can call it that, is one of convenience. For the privilege of having a roof over her head, she must tend to Mister’s farm, children and sexual needs. She must also endure beatings and the knowledge that she has two children, who are the product of rape by her stepfather, somewhere out in the world. Nettie, the younger sister, eventually runs away to escape that stepfather and settles in Africa working as a missionary, too far away to easily communicate with the sister she dearly loves. At the heart of the story are the letters the sisters pen to one another for decades, letters that never reach their recipients until the two are in middle age. Celie, the sister around whom the story revolves, survives her plight by following the examples set by the strong women in her life.
When viewed as simply a theatrical production, The Color Purple is quite good. Jeannette Bayardelle, who plays Celie, possesses both the voice and the stage presence necessary to move an audience to sympathy for this seemingly poor, dumb girl. Felicia P. Fields literally takes the stage by storm the minute Sofia, Celie’s daughter-in-law, makes her first appearance. Sofia as played by Fields is head and shoulders above Sofia as played by Oprah in the film version. This is no small feat; Oprah’s portrayal of Sofia was worthy of the critical acclaim it garnered. On the whole, the performances were wonderful, as were the staging and the costume design. Nevertheless, someone with a knowledge of history leaves the theater with a sense of disgust.
While love is a prominent theme in Alice Walker’s novel, it is not the only theme. Let us not forget that the novel, movie and musical are set at a time when blacks and whites lived in separate and unequal worlds where racism and the spectre of racially motivated violence were omnipresent. Readers of the novel cannot ignore the significance of the racial schisms that deeply influence the lives of the characters in both America and Africa. The musical is either unable or unwilling to venture too deeply into such waters. To call it a disappointment would be too kind an assessment. In its incarnation as a musical, The Color Purple devolves into a racial stereotype of the worst kind: that of darkies happily singing and dancing their way through life when there is very little to sing and dance about. Oprah and Quincy Jones (who is also one of the producers) ought to be ashamed of themselves. Their one-dimensional version of The Color Purple is an affront to those of us who believed depictions of black people on-screen and on-stage were moving forward. Where is August Wilson when you need him?
Posted by Surfsister at 14:28